April 9, 2010
Support the National Heritage assessment proposed for the West Kimberley
As a member of the inaugural Australian Heritage Council, HSI's Campaign Director helped ensure that the Kimberley was given top ten priority for assessment and saw the listing of the 566,000 hectare Yampi Defence Area on the Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL). HSI also nominated the Prince Regent National Park, Drysdale River National Park and several Kimberley Islands for National Heritage Listing. These were assessed as a part of the wider Kimberley review. HSI was a key NGO player in the passage of the EPBC Act and the EPBC heritage amendments. The EPBC Act also protects three RAMSAR sites in the Kimberley area. HSI spearheaded the establishment of a national biodiversity hotspots program in 2001, which identified the Kimberley as one of Australia's 15 priority hotspots, giving access to a $10 million NHT management kitty (approximately $3 million was allocated to the Northern Kimberley in 2003 ' 2004), and an expanded hotspots program subsequently provided resources to help purchase a major Kimberley property through a land purchasing conservation NGO. In 2009, HSI published a ' Special Bulletin' drafted by Judy Lambert and Michael Kennedy entitled ' Developing Terrestrial Natural Heritage Priorities and Using the EPBC Act Effectively' , which also prioritised the North Kimberley.
On 25 March 2010 the Chairman of the Australian Heritage Council announced the Council's intention to assess in some detail the heritage values of an area of almost 20 million hectares of the north/west Kimberley which, on a preliminary assessment ' might have the high values that would qualify it for the National Heritage List' . This decision builds on a previous agreement between the Australian and Western Australian Governments.
Consistent with the provisions of the EPBC Act, the Australian Heritage Council is now consulting with ' owners, occupiers and Indigenous people' who have a right or interest in the area.
The Australian Heritage Council will make recommendations to the Minister on which areas have National Heritage values sufficient to warrant listing, based on the assessed values of the area. That advice is to be given to the Minister by 30 June 2010.
In making his decision about National Heritage listing, the Minister will take into account not only the heritage values, but also the comments received from owner/occupiers during the consultation period. Although National Heritage listing does not change land ownership and lawful existing uses can continue, a campaign has already begun to oppose the listing.
Send your comments in support of the National Heritage assessment process for the West Kimberley to The Hon. Peter Garrett AM MP, Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia by email to Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au
or by fax to (02) 6273 6101. Ask him to consider the whole of the area initially assessed by the Australian Heritage Council and to expand the Fitzroy River corridor to the whole of that catchment and to add in the southern part of the Dampier Peninsula. Comments should be submitted not later than 14 May 2010
Please send us copies of any replies you receive to us.